Lumberjacks Stumble at SMU
DALLAS, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks were victimized by miscues, dropping a 52-0 decision to SMU Saturday at Ford Stadium in Dallas, Texas. The `Jacks turned the ball over 10 times, including six interceptions, and had two kicks blocked in the setback. SMU (1-1) scored four non-offensive touchdowns in the victory.
The loss dropped SFA to 1-1 on the season, and was its first since a 45-10 setback against Sam Houston State last season at Reliant Stadium.
"The turnovers really took us out of our rhythm tonight," said head coach J.C. Harper. "We talk about it all time - you're going to have a hard time winning when you turn the ball over. We were careless with the football tonight, but you have to give SMU credit. They made the big plays, and when the opportunities presented themselves they scored."
Despite a turnover and a penalty on their first two offensive plays, the Lumberjacks had more success than their hosts at moving the ball in the opening quarter. SFA recorded 119 yards of total offense in the first 15 minutes, compared to 82 for SMU. The `Jacks couldn't capitalize on their opportunities with their first four possessions ending in a fumble, interception, punt and blocked field goal.
Even SFA's highlights were turned into negative plays. Senior Gralyn Crawford recorded his 200th career reception on the first play of the game but he fumbled the ball away after a 16-yard gain. He became the first player in school history, and the third in Southland history to record 200 receptions.
With the SFA offense bogged down, the Mustangs went to work on the ground. SMU's Zach Line became the work horse carrying the ball 16 times for 56 yards and two scores to give the Mustangs a 14-0 lead in the opening half.
The Lumberjacks had a chance to steal back some of the momentum heading into the locker room, as sophomore Jordan Wiggs lined up for a career-long 48-yard field goal with seconds remaining in the half. It was not to be as SMU broke through the line for the second time in the opening half to block the kick. The Mustangs' Kenneth Acker picked up the loose ball and returned it 56 yards for a score.
SFA outgained SMU 227-132 in the opening half, but miscues kept SFA off the scoreboard. The Lumberjacks turned ball over five times, including four interceptions, and three costly blocks.
It was more of the same to start the second half for the Lumberjack offense. Two more turnovers early in the half led to scores for SMU as the Mustangs built a 35-0 lead.
The Lumberjack defense played well, despite being put in tough situations throughout the game. SFA held the Mustangs to 328 yards of total offense. SFA outgained their hosts, 466-328, on the night. Senior Ryan Epperson led the defensive effort with eight tackles, including seven solos. Senior Josh Aubrey entered Saturday's game with no career sacks, and recorded two against the Mustangs.
Junior Brady Attaway completed 19 passes for 184 yards, and threw four interceptions, before leaving the game. Freshman Joe Minden completed 24 passes for a career-high 207 yards, but had two interceptions, in reserve. Senior Cordell Roberson led all receivers with 10 catches for 76 yards.
The Lumberjacks return to action Saturday, Sept. 15, when they travel to Bozeman, Mont., to face fourth-ranked Montana State. The game is slated to begin at 2:35 p.m., and will be televised on KCEB-TV.